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Lance Lynn and the Fallacy of "Selling High"


We're now two months into the season and Lance Lynn is still awesome. Not just awesome for where you drafted him (if you even drafted him, as he was available on over 95% of waiver wires at the start of the season), awesome for a starting pitcher with no further context needed. As of Sunday's games, Lynn was the 12th rated starting pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater and the 44th player overall. The two players directly after him? Ian Kinsler and Mark Trumbo. That is serious value.

But the question with Lynn isn't "how awesome has this guy been?" because we know the answer -- it's quantifiable. The two questions we need answered are what to do with him in a redraft league and what to do with him in a keeper/dynasty format league. There's no question that Lynn started off the season with the softest of schedules, and he was featured in my Ahead of the Curve column from April 13, 2012 because of that. Here's what I said:

Lance Lynn (CHC, @PIT, @CHC, PIT)

Lynn was very impressive in his first start of the season, but any time you can exploit four consecutive starts against NL Central cellar dwellers, you just have to do it. Lynn was probably a hot pickup in your league earlier this week, but if he's still out there, remedy that situation.

True to form, over those four starts he put up the following line: 4-0, 1.66 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 22 K's in 27 innings. That stretch ended May 2nd, and over the last 30 days, Lynn has been the 56th rated starting pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater, as he's gone 3-2 with a 3.63 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 33 K's in 34 2/3 IP.

As they say, those are the facts -- and there's even more after the jump..

It's times likes this which requires the almighty pros and cons list. So retrieve your finest yellow legal pad, and let's go over what we like and what we don't like.


- Lynn has 8 wins and I like his chances to keep winning games (albeit not at that pace) with the Cardinals being a very good team and having many more match-ups with the bottom rung of the NL Central.

- Lynn has a 49% ground ball rate, which will allow him to minimize some of his damage.

- While some of his ratios have gotten worse over that time period, his strikeouts have increased from April (8.0 K/9) to May (8.8 K/9).


- Lynn's walk rate was 6.2% in April, 9.0% in May and 16.0% in his one June start.

- As a ground ball pitcher, his BABIP against is likely to see some further regression from it's current .269.

- Even though the Cardinals came out and said he would not have an innings limit, he may a few starts skipped over the rest of the season -- and that's all assuming he remains in the rotation the rest of the year as the Cards may have Chris Carpenter back by mid-to-late July.

Those things are all fine and good, but if you own him, what are you doing with him? If you're in a league with a bunch of people who've never played fantasy baseball before, then maybe you can flip him for Adrian Beltre or James Shields -- but assuming that's not the case, you're probably riding this whole thing out until the party's over. And you know what, that's what you're supposed to do. It's insulting to just tell people that they should "sell high" on Lynn and be done with it, especially because most of us play in leagues with realistic owners. When you hit on a sleeper like this, don't overthink it -- you're playing with house money.

I own Lynn in four different leagues in both redraft formats and dynasty formats, and amazingly enough, I haven't gotten a single offer for him in any of them. Not even a low-ball offer. There's such dislocation between his actual value and his perceived value, that in my personal experience, he's just not being touched. And with dislocation comes value. So where you, the non-Lance Lynn owner, can take advantage here is by trying to pluck him from his current owner, who probably is not reading this post and therefore has no idea what to do with him.

So in a redraft league, offer him/her a decent offensive player who lacks a large track record and is likely to see some regression, like Chris Davis or Bryan LaHair. In a keeper/dynasty format offer up a solid prospect who's at least a year or two away from contributing like one of the Jays pitchers (Sanchez, Syndergaard, Nicolino) or a Javier Baez/George Springer type, and see if you can get the owner to bite. There's no good reason why Lynn can't have multiple seasons of success with his K-rate and ground ball rates -- and by success, I mean 12-15 wins with a 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and a 7.5-8.0 K/9.

Follow me on Twitter at @tfw_bret